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Day twelve. 

I have to say I've continued in my fog one more day. It's really hard to say I've relapsed and played games, but I did. Today, I'm really hard-pressed to find a reason. It was again a combination of momentum, unclear structure and just plain old habits. 

In the evening I went to a friend's house to celebrate the new year. It was a really mild party, compared to last one when I felt like dying the morning after. I was still feeling blue after the morning's events, but it got better as time passed.

What I've learned: friends are invaluable, especially close friends. Be more active in cultivating your relationships

Thanks for reading guys :) happy new year!

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One of the things Jeff Olson talks about in The Slight Edge is that just as your positive habits build into big rewards over time, the same is true for your negative ones. It's rarely BIG events that cause us to get off track - just a few small ones compounding over time. If you haven't read that book yet, it's a great one to begin with.

That's really true. I've read the book, and I kinda feel that as soon as I fix one habit, another negative one takes its place :D

This is the power of INTENTION. You must consciously choose what the new habit will be to replace it - otherwise it will just go to your next (likely negative) habit. :)

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You're right. I'm glad replacing habits got easier once I learned a little bit about the mechanics (Power of Habit is one of two books I've ever re-read) and as I went through my reset.

I'm really behind with my journaling, but that is because I'm doing it in the morning, since it takes less time and I'm less prone to browse Youtube. So, here is Day twelve

As we celebrated New Year's Eve, I've vowed to make this year a year of creation. I know some people dislike new year resolutions, but I find them useful when it comes to seeing the big picture. 2015 was for me a year of changes and I'll list the biggest ones:

  • I've admitted to myself I have a problem with video games which requires much more effort and patience than I expected
  • I changed my course of study and with that my whole outlook on life and careers
  • I've ended a two-year relationship from which I've learned so much about how not to act, and what it means to be in a relationship
  • I've finished a manuscript for a fantasy book (which requires about three more drafts to feel complete, and I don't know when will I work on it next) and
  • I've traveled to a country I've always wanted to see (Sweden), and decided it's not the promised land that it was in my head (I still liked it though).

There are lots of things I would've done differently, but all of that is water under the bridge now, and it's time to look forward. As I mentioned, I intend to make this year a year of creation, and that means, among other things, less consumption. I've blocked reddit on my browser (BlockSite), as well as a lot of other sites that I used as crutches instead of doing work, I've erased my Facebook newsfeed (Google news feed eradicator), I've deleted Instagram from my phone and pruned the list of sites that send me e-mails. The system is not perfect, not at all. I still think I read too many articles and my brain still often gets the better of me, especially late at night or when I should focus on studying. I still relapse and binge on video games, but I have more and more good days and less and less bad days, which I feel really grateful about. I'm sure a huge chunk of my recovery is thanks to Cam and Game Quitters in general, and I hope you guys feel the same way.

I won't talk about my specific goals, since I think keeping them private makes them more personal, but I'm excited for the new year and I plan to make it the best one yet. I remember a quote from a TV show Community which goes like this: ...you're entering the next chapter of your life. Sadly it's also the final chapter but it's also the longest and if you play it right, the best. It was about adulthood, but I feel that way about 2016, and I wish you guys the best years of your lives too :)

What I've learned: Trust your gut. If you feel like going out, go out. If you feel like asking that girl for coffee, do it (she said she can't make it because she was leaving the following morning for university, but she also said she'd love to when we're back home again, so I take it as a success!). If you feel like certain person's writing, or certain website is no longer good for you, give yourself the permission to remove it from your life.

Thanks for reading! :)

Edited by Suritus

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Day thirteen

We had our first snowfall of the winter, so that made me pretty excited, until it was time for me to go out. It was cold. I hung out with a couple of friends, two of whom study in the Netherlands. We've made plans to meet again during the spring break, so now I'm going to look for work so that I can finance the trip. I feel like I don't have enough time for a job, but on the other hand, I know that this is most likely just an excuse. In any case, I could use the cash and possibly make some friends on the job so I'll spend some time looking every day. 

Apart from that, there isn't much to say. I'm binge-reading books that I got for Christmas and my birthday, still a lot of pages to get through. I'm talking with people on Facebook more than I want to. I feel happy, because I'm among friends, but I also dread next semester, because I'll work harder than ever before. It's gonna be tough, but so worth it, I know.

What I've learned: I should clean my room more often  (Not every day can be full of insight, can it? :D). An organized environment is underrated, because we are living in a context, think in relative terms, and we use our environment as an extension of our thinking. Dirty room means mental fog. I have this thought from The World Beyond Your Head

Thanks for reading :)

 

 

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One service that can help you purge the newsletters/blogs you read is unroll.me.

Looking forward to your growth this year! :)

Thanks Cam! I used the website and unsubscribed from a few newsletters. Feels good

Here's day fourteen

A fairly standard day. I continued in my binge-reading, went to the gym after a long time, and did some programming. I hung out with friends in the evening again. It feels strange that this is the fourteenth day - the winter break sped by rather quickly, even though I didn't play games almost at all. I really hope that the phenomenon of time going faster as you age isn't true, because it seems really frustrating. I don't have much else to say today, so I'll stop there. I'll probably go through a few journals others keep on the forum to get some ideas on what to write :D

What I've learned: I've observed the fluidity of social dynamics, depending on the people I'm with. With one group, I'm usually listening a lot, but with the friends today, I was the one doing a lot of the talking. I don't have a concrete lesson, but the shift was interesting to note.

Thanks for reading! :)

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Hey Matt, enjoying your journal. I liked how you try to summarize what you've learned. It's a positive thing and a good way to keep moving forward.

I saw in an earlier post that you and your girlfriend broke up a bit after you quit gaming. Funny that the same thing happened to me and a couple other people.

Great job and keep it up!

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One service that can help you purge the newsletters/blogs you read is unroll.me.

Looking forward to your growth this year! :)

Thanks Cam! I used the website and unsubscribed from a few newsletters. Feels good

I hope ours wasn't one of them! :P

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One service that can help you purge the newsletters/blogs you read is unroll.me.

Looking forward to your growth this year! :)

Thanks Cam! I used the website and unsubscribed from a few newsletters. Feels good

I hope ours wasn't one of them! :P

 

Haha, I'm keeping that! :) Those were mostly services I've stopped using or people whose writing wasn't resonating with me anymore.

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Hey Matt, enjoying your journal. I liked how you try to summarize what you've learned. It's a positive thing and a good way to keep moving forward.

I saw in an earlier post that you and your girlfriend broke up a bit after you quit gaming. Funny that the same thing happened to me and a couple other people.

Great job and keep it up!

Thanks for the kind words. I suppose breakups are a part of the process - like shedding old skin. Funny thing is, if I didn't play games during 2015, I think that the breakup wouldn't come, or at least, it would come a lot later. But you live and learn :) 

And it's actually one of the good things about quitting - you get to spend more time with people you love.

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Day fifteen

I'm writing this in the evening of the next day, so I hope I can remember everything important from yesterday. :D

I did my usual routine, so there isn't much to report there. One thing I've realized is that the more days have passed since my (final) decision to quit, the weaker the cravings became. I still get them, and when I do, it feels like I'm on autopilot. Thankfully, I've always been able to stop before I make a mistake, but it's funny to know that the brain changes slowly, and that the pathways for playing games are still deeply embedded in there. 

I've been feeling really well these past few days. I've been thinking of replacing more negative habits with positive ones, but I'm afraid that the extra mental strain might push me over the edge willpower-wise, and I'll relapse again. So, I'm taking it slow and forgive myself for transgressions like oversleeping, not reading as much as I'd like to and so on. 

I think I mentioned the next bit somewhere earlier, but I can't find it, so I'll write it again. My real challenge comes in a few days, when I return back to the UK. I'll have less of a social support there and the mostly easy activities I do these days will be replaced by studying, which is going to be tough. Still, I have things to look forward to, and actions to take, so I'm not going crazy about it. It will just be a risky transition, especially until the end of February.

What I've learnedAristotle's Golden Mean. I've learned this concept last year in a Philosophy course, but here, it applies for my social life. Too little social contact leads to loneliness, but too much, at least for me, leads to a feeling of restlessness, of wanting to retreat back to books. I'm erring on the side of too much for now, because I know that being around friends too little is a recipe for disaster.

Thanks for reading :)

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day sixteen

I got a lot of work done, mostly in programming, but also in the gym. I'm also getting better at maintaining my sleep schedule. It's not where I want it to be just yet, but it's getting better. I'm starting to pack my stuff for a flight back and I've also looked at air ticket prices for spring break, and they are better than I thought, so it looks like I'll be able to see my friends, which is great!

A highlight of my day was a skype call with Cam. We've talked about a few things, but one of the takeaways was the fact that when we worry about a certain negative event in our lives, we give it power and make it that much worse. This applies to relationships, to work, and - in our cases - to worries about relapsing. Cam also explained how, by deciding and forming intentions we set a structure and make it easier to follow through in times when we're tired, stressed or feeling under the weather. This is similar to a chapter in The Thief of Time, which explains that specific if-then intentions (if I finish studying earlier than expected, then I'll take a book to the library and review what I've learned during the week) were helpful in overcoming procrastination. 

What I've learned: the bits above. There are a few more things, but I'm keeping those for the days to come, so I don't run out of ideas :D

Thanks for reading :)

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Awesome to talk to you yesterday man. This is going to be a breakthrough year for you. Have faith in that and keep doing the little things each day that will lead you there. You've got this. :)

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Day seventeen

I'm packing and getting ready to leave for the university. After I've talked with Cam, I'm seeing this semester as a blank page without thinking about last year. What happened happened, and it's better to move on and focus on making the best of the situation. I'm looking forward to the university gym, to a book I ordered (Asylum by William Seabrook) and to studying, actually. I didn't do as much learning as I wanted over the holidays and I'm missing the feeling of accomplishment after a study session. I'll be saying something completely different two weeks from now, but that's just how it is :D 

After I packed most of my stuff, my dad took me out. We've talked about his university experience and how he got where he is today. When I was little, he did a lot of work with books and that meant he often had the new translated fantasy novels for me to read. I'm really grateful for this, as it helped shape me into the person I am today. It also meant he did a lot of work on a computer which led me to computer science as well. All and all, it was a nice surprise to hang out with him, even more because I'll see him again in the summer. Not being a teenager sucks! (Just kidding, I love living abroad, but it comes with drawbacks)

I've watched a few movies in the past few days, which I'm not excited about, because it means I have a lot of time and not enough structure. It doesn't matter much though, because in a few days this will reverse and I'll have too much structure and not enough time. One additional thing I feel strange about is abandoning my manuscript. I just don't know what to do with it, because it's not as good as I'd like it to be, so it might be better to stash it away and move on. Oh well.

What I've learned: I'm reading Thinking, Fast and Slow and one thing that resonated with me is that people overestimate the importance of what they think about. For example, when comparing two cities in terms of living conditions, if they thought about the weather, then the weather played a bigger role in their minds than it would in reality. This just goes to show how little our thoughts are actually relevant, and we shouldn't be slaves to them.

Thanks for reading :) For those of you going back to school or university, take it as a fresh opportunity to improve!

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Day eighteen

Another fairly standard day. I've read Stephen King's Misery after finding out the book was about cocaine and I really liked it. Other than that, I did my usual programming, reading and writing routine. In the evening, my sister took us to an escape room. I was surprised to learn that there is around 20 of them in the city I live in, and this was supposed to be one of the best, so I was really excited. It didn't disappoint, although my sister with her friend left the room scared after a clown costume jumped at them from the ceiling :D

In the evening, I came really close to playing games, when I mindlessly installed a game from the internet. I didn't even really want to, I just kind of did it. Thankfully I realized what was going on and uninstalled again, but it was weird to experience this. I suppose the reason is that I was on the computer late (again)

What I've learned: When I get past a certain threshold, my brain commits something similar to an all-or-nothing fallacy - If I miss my bed time of 11 PM, then it's so much easier to go to bed as late as 2 AM, because it 'doesn't matter', since the threshold was broken anyway. It's easier to prevent than to cure.

Thanks for reading :)

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I did an escape room recently and hope to do another one soon with friends. There are a bunch in my city too. Tons of fun!

Yeah, they're really good, especially if you have a group which is really into it! 

Here are my days nineteen and twenty. I've spent a good portion of the day flying back to the UK, that's why I'm posting this late.

Yesterday (19) I've did the final preparations for the flight, packing my last stuff etc. When I was done, I did some programming, went to the gym for the last time and went out with a friend who I haven't seen in ten years. It was funny to notice how he'd changed, as he said the same about me. We talked about our current lives, our plans for the future and so on. We'd promised to meet again in the summer. I've had strong cravings in the evening, combined with a "what the hell" attitude - It was the last time I had time to play games before I left for university again. After a long struggle I finally collapsed and spent some time playing. I don't feel good about it, but I don't feel shitty either, I just accept it as something that happened, and in all likelihood won't happen soon.

Today(20) was just the flight and errands. I read a book about university on the plane, called How to Win at College, to get some ideas on what to do this semester. The main point point of the book could be summarized as: Do more than you think you can, study smarter and make friends. I learned some principles I'm going to apply to my life, such as structuring free time, replacing a to-do list with a blocking method and going to more events such as guest lectures.

After I arrived at the flat, I had to pay utility bills, go to a store, unpack, and all those fun chores :D I thoroughly cleaned my part of the flat (another point in the book), and I'm glad I got to do some programming. Right now I'm really looking forward to reading the book that arrived while I was gone, and to the uni gym tomorrow. 

What I've learned: being physically or mentally tired doesn't get me off the hook. There are ways (exercise, cold water, fruit etc.) to recuperate physically, and small chores to take care of if I don't feel up to task mentally. Also relevant: the Do Something Principle

Thank you for reading :)

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day 21 - gonna switch to numbers as the words are getting longer :D

Another routine day. I finally got my schedule fixed, a day before the school starts. The environment played a big part in in - it's just harder to go to bed when my childhood room influences my thinking. I did some solid programming done in the morning and then started to run some other chores such as cooking, cleaning and looking for a job. Towards the afternoon I went to the gym and now I'm looking for a job again. If I find one, it's going to be tough time-wise, but since I spent a lot of hours last semester binge-gaming, I know I have the time. Anyone have any tips for CVs/interviews? :D 

I spent a lot of the day in foul mood though. It's really cold in my flat, and the radiators don't seem to help much. I go from excitement to dread to excitement about tomorrow's start of the second semester, and then there's the expired relationship. I've read certain things my ex wrote about me - nothing bad, just super honest criticism, and it made me reconsider some of my thoughts and behavior. 

What I've learned: I'm not sure about everything what I've written here in the past so I might start repeating myself at one point (hopefully not too soon), but I learned that meditation is just training for real negative thoughts and emotions, and can be used to gain a new perspective. Awareness of the negative emotion is often the only step required to shift into a more constructive mindset.

Thanks for reading :)

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day 22

Today was a good day, compared to yesterday. Regression to the mean I suppose. I followed my daily routine from the get-go, went to the university, caught up with friends, bought some texts for a class and went to the gym. There's a lot of pretty girls around the campus, and I'm going to start going to events to meet some of them :D There is no homework to do yet, nothing to study for, so I arrived at the flat with a few hours to spare and nothing to do. I cooked some soup and had a skype call with a friend, but I feel like that time was a bit wasted. At least it wasn't games and my schedule will start filling up soon, so I better enjoy this first week acceleration :D 

There's a lot of things I still want to change, but I feel like I'm finally on the right path. I'm starting to like the city more, despite its quirks. The happiest students are the most connected ones, so I'm trying to live with this mantra. Tomorrow will be a lot busier, and I'm actually really looking forward for my courses. There isn't much to say just yet, but I'm sure there will be.

What I've learned: I still like playing it safe and not talk much in larger groups. I hope it changes soon, but I'm not sure. Any introverts want to share their experience with groups of people? :)

Thanks for reading

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Hey Matt!

Great idea on writing out what you learned during each day!

Tips for CV/Interviews? Set up a LinkedIn account if you haven't one already, read about it and pimp it out. It's really useful to make you more known, if you do it well. Maybe set up a cool personal web page!  For Interviews, I guess it just comes with practice. If you go to job conferences and talk to people who already work, you'll get used to it and you'll be much more relaxed in interviews. But from what I've seen, the first thing Human Resource looks in a CV is the last professional experience (which you might have none, they will look to your university then) and then they will look into your hobbies. HRs give tremendous importance to hobbies. Be proactive!

I'd argue that the most happy students are the most connected ones, but I can see your point of view :)

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Hey Matt!

Great idea on writing out what you learned during each day!

Tips for CV/Interviews? Set up a LinkedIn account if you haven't one already, read about it and pimp it out. It's really useful to make you more known, if you do it well. Maybe set up a cool personal web page!  For Interviews, I guess it just comes with practice. If you go to job conferences and talk to people who already work, you'll get used to it and you'll be much more relaxed in interviews. But from what I've seen, the first thing Human Resource looks in a CV is the last professional experience (which you might have none, they will look to your university then) and then they will look into your hobbies. HRs give tremendous importance to hobbies. Be proactive!

I'd argue that the most happy students are the most connected ones, but I can see your point of view :)

This was exactly what I was looking for, thanks man! :) I'm starting to gather experience working my own small projects, so once I have something substantial I'll compose a portfolio and put it on a LinkedIn account. Also, props for the tip on being proactive, it's really relevant.

Here's to a great semester for you man! :)

Thanks Cam! I'm going to make it great!

Here's day 22

I had a great day today. We have a new math teacher who isn't the greatest speaker, and the topics he goes over seem easy, but that's only one part of the course, the second is going to be a killer. However, after last semester, I think this one is going to be that much easier. We're also starting a completely new topic in computer science, and I'm really excited about it. Compared to my last year at the university I'm much more excited to go to my classes and I'm really grateful for that :)

I've spent a lot of time today doing research on posture, after seeing a forum thread on anterior pelvic tilt. A friend of mine has done something to his back in the gym, and that made me focus more on proper posture. I'm gonna try new stuff tomorrow, so I'm excited about that too!

I'm starting to get overwhelmed and it's only the second day of teaching :D There's books to read, stuff to take care of, assignments to start looking at, events to attend etc. At least the courses really start next Monday, so I have until then to get my stuff in order. 

What I've learned: There was an article I read about how the light from smartphones disturbs the secretion of melanin and makes our sleep worse. I underestimated the effects, but now I'm going to keep off the phone for an hour before bed, just to make the morning better. Oh and also the fact that posture problems are really common if one sits a lot. It doesn't take much time to check whether your posture could be improved and it saves trouble down the line.

Thanks for reading :)

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Day 23

I overslept today and instead of my ideal two hours programming, I only managed one. I blame time zones and my phone, who switched 11PM to midnight :D 

However, after that, I got the ball rolling and spent the whole day outside. Classes, gym, a guest lecture and a movie screening, with some empty time in between. I also became a committee member of a society just by showing up, since they needed an extra pair of hands, so I said sure, why not.

I'm having a hard time seeing events such as the movie screening as an opportunity to talk to people instead of wasted time. Taking the initiative and talking spontaneously doesn't come to me naturally, but I know it's a skill to be developed. I'm glad I was out of the flat though, because there wasn't much I had to do for the university and would likely just spend the time online watching Youtube or reading Facebook.

I'm getting through Hooked, and despite my issues with the morality of the premise of the book, I'm starting to get swayed by the author's perspective. Rather early in the book he also explains a B = MAT behavior model, where a target behavior is caused by a Trigger, when sufficient Ability and Motivation are present. Even though I feel like I'm mostly out of the gaming loop at this point, I realize there will be stressful situations in a few weeks, which will supply the Trigger and tiredness, which will supply a Motivation. My saving grace is having low Ability and a full schedule is definitely a good psychological barrier.

A friend of mine has a birthday party on Friday, so I'm excited to go there and meet some people. I'm really grateful to have these opportunities. Next week is also full of events (I know of at least three) :)

What I've learned: Developing social skills is harder than it seems and takes time. That doesn't mean one should give up.

Thanks for reading :)

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Day 24

I had a pretty rough day, so I'll keep this short. I realized a few things about myself which will take a while to get through, and I don't really want to talk about them in public. It's funny how the stories we tell ourselves have so much power over us, even though they might be completely false. Oh well.

At least I have that birthday party coming on tomorrow, so there's something to look forward to. I'm also looking forward to studying over the weekend, however strange that might seem. The university is really good in keeping me in a structured regime, and I'm grateful for that. 

To be honest, today is my first really stressful day in a while, and I don't have the slightest desire to play games. I'm glad it's this way :)

What I've learned: It's possible to be grateful for the negative things in life, because they often teach us more than the positive. Also, it's imperative to separate stories from facts, no matter how true the stories seem.

Also. Games, as all escapism, can be seen like a band-aid over a festering wound. The problems are still there, but invisible, and getting worse, until one rips the band-aid away. Only then they become visible and start hurting, but only then they can be fully healed. 

Thanks for reading :)

Edited by Suritus

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It's funny how the stories we tell ourselves have so much power over us, even though they might be completely false. Oh well.

This is where the magic happens. Own your story. :)

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